No evidence of “pregnancy pact” in Gloucester
In the strongest rebuff yet of the national “pregnancy pact” story that has scandalized Gloucester, top city and school officials say there’s no evidence that nearly half of the 17 pregnant teens at Gloucester High conspired to have babies together.
“We have not been able to confirm the existence of a pact,” said Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk, trying to defuse the national story on the school’s teen baby mama drama. “The information from the principal has not been verified by any other source.”
Principal Joseph Sullivan, in an explosive story published last week in Time magazine, said about half the 17 pregnant teens at Gloucester High made a pact to get pregnant, even high-fiving each other when they had a positive test at a school clinic.
Developing… Update added minutes later… Anatomy of a media-made pact. From the horse’s mouth, GloucesterTimes.com:
Through stories and editorials, we have occasionally noted that at least some of the 18 girls who became pregnant this past school year did so intentionally, with the idea that it might be “cool” to “become moms” and raise the babies together. Could that be considered some sort of informal “pact”? Maybe. It depends on how formally one defines that word. But one thing has become certain over the past two days — that’s the fact that “pact” can certainly be a magic word. As soon as Time magazine reported the presence of a “pregnancy pact” — as its headline blared in its online edition Thursday — this story, which had already sparked local and some national talk about teen pregnancy and the distribution of contraceptives in schools, exploded worldwide.
How? Well, shortly after Time posted the story, national news network CNN — a corporate partner of Time Warner, and thus a close partner of Time — added the “pregnancy pact” story to its online and broadcast reports. It wasn’t long after that the other major news networks joined in, and the frenzy was on.
By Thursday night — before the print edition of Time was even on newsstands — Gloucester and its teen “pregnancy pact” were featured on the CBS Evening News, and Patrick Anderson, our reporter on the story, was called upon for a guest spot on MSNBC’s Dan Abrams show. By yesterday morning, I was getting calls and doing live radio interviews with WABC in New York, with BBC World News in London and with Ireland national radio in Dublin. All, of course, were looking for more information about a story that has literally thrust — or plunged — Gloucester into the global spotlight.
In the midst of all of this, our own coverage has maintained a different focus. Yesterday’s Times focused on the fact that none of the pregnant girls — not one — dropped out of school this year, a fact officials credit in large part to what has become something of a controversial day-care facility at the school. And while today’s story leads with local officials questioning the status of any “pact,” (Please see news story, Page 1) it also includes coverage of the media’s sudden, intense interest in our community on the heels of the explosive Time story. For Gloucester, we believed that had, indeed, become part of the story as well.
So, you may ask, why has your community’s newspaper covered this global story like that — with only peripheral mention of any “pact”? Because, frankly, no one had used that term in describing the girls’ intentions to us — as no one apparently had with local school and other officials, either.
Ans wer that Time Magazine!!! Parenthetically, more confirmation of my point last night, heedless adults taking thoughtless advantage of kids for our needs. In this case the need for a good story! There are doubtless real, complex, nuanced, important issues and problems that need to be addressed in this story. I’m not sure we’ve done anyone any service! (I’m still reading…) I hate it when I rant! It was the principal who gave the quote. Sounds like he got carried away.
The story would have benefited from more caution all around. None of the girls would be interviewed; a recent graduate of the school who “thinks she knows why these girls wanted to get pregnant” is quoted instead. You can get by with that I guess but it’s not the best journalistic practice in the book…
RELATED: Roy Edroso has a roundup of Rightblogger reaction to the Time story.
THE NEXT DAY ON TODAY: The Time reporter, Kathleen Kingsbury, on The Today Show, 8:12 a.m. EDT, “…repeatedly the story I heard out there was that there was a group of girlfriends who decided to get pregnant and raise their babies together…” Hey??? I didn’t hear the word pact! Did you??? BAD REPORTORIAL PRACTICES!!! Confirmed on Today!!!
Methinks she doth protest too much…